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Young, (Stewart) Terence Herbert (1915–1994), film director, was born on 20 June 1915 in Shanghai, the son of Stewart Crommie Young, deputy commissioner of police. He came home to be educated, and read history at St Catharine's College, Cambridge. Tall, good-looking, and athletic, he was described by one obituarist as dapper, with ‘vivid good looks, his short sleeved sports shirts and the perennial silk handkerchief blossoming from his top jacket pocket’ (The Times, 8 Sept 1994).

As an undergraduate Young wrote film reviews for Granta and took holiday jobs in the studios. After graduation he had several scripts accepted and worked as an assistant director. He continued writing scripts intermittently during the Second World War, in which he served as a captain in the intelligence corps of the guards armoured division, and during which he was wounded. On 24 June 1942 he married Dorothea Alice (Dosia) Nissen (b. 1913/14), daughter of William Bennett, medical practitioner, and divorced wife of Erik Martin Ruzt Nissen. They had a son and two daughters, and remained married for more than fifty years.

For a few years after the war Young directed films for mainstream British companies with big studios, but he got poor reviews and was savagely criticized by such serious critics as Graham Greene and the new wave of young cineastes. After this, for several years he worked on the fringes of the industry in small independent companies, often set up for a single film. From the early 1950s the government subsidized film production in Britain by the Eady levy. This attracted American finance and two experienced Hollywood executives, Albert (Cubby) Broccoli and Irving Allen, formed Warwick Pictures to produce run-of-the-mill films in Britain, bringing an American star for each. Four of these were directed by Terence Young. His connection with Broccoli was to have a profound effect on his career, and in 1961 his luck changed dramatically.

Enter James Bond, ‘licensed to kill’. The first of Ian Fleming's novels featuring Bond had appeared in 1953. Harry Saltzman, a Canadian Hollywood executive now in England, went into partnership with Broccoli as Eon Productions and acquired options on the novels, but investors hung back. Eventually they raised reluctant backing from United Artists. They went into production with Dr. No at Pinewood in early 1961, with a modest budget and no great expectations, and Broccoli engaged Young to direct it. For 007 he appointed a little-known Scottish actor, Sean Connery. The far-fetched tale of Bond's exploits had ingredients which were to recur in further Bond films—an evil master-criminal, a vaguely cold war background, a threatened world calamity, M, 007's boss at MI5, and his secretary, Miss Moneypenny, spectacular settings and exotic locations, hilariously unlikely gadgetry to get the hero out of apparently hopeless predicaments, and gorgeous girls.

To general surprise Dr. No (1962) was a runaway success, and set the pattern for the many Bond films that followed, even those with different directors and Bonds. Three of the first four were directed by Young, whose input was considerable. He later claimed he had felt the need to ‘heat up’ and give ‘pace’ to the original story, which he dismissed as B-movie stuff. The result was a fast, tongue-in-cheek comic strip treatment, an enjoyable spoof spy film, with its sex and violence robbed of offensiveness by the general air of nonsense. The contribution of production designer Ken Adams, and Connery's personification of the hero (with his delightful throwaway asides) as rough, tough, and sexy—which immediately made him a star—also became part of the style which was to become known to those involved in making the films as ‘Bondian’.

They made From Russia with Love (1963) with twice the budget and even greater success. The third film, Goldfinger (1964), was to have been directed by Young but he fell out with Eon over money and it was directed by Guy Hamilton. Now held to be a useful director of blockbusters, Young was engaged by a mainstream producer, Marcel Hellman, to make The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders (1965) as a successor to the recent roisterous eighteenth-century classic Tom Jones (1963). But this was not a success, possibly partly because of the strange miscasting of Kim Novak as the bawdy heroine. After another extremely successful Bond film by Young, Thunderball (1965), he resumed his disjointed and disappointing career, with only one more outstanding film, the American film Wait until Dark (1967). A tense and claustrophobic study of a blind woman terrorized in her own home by thugs, this brilliant film starred Audrey Hepburn, who was nominated for an Oscar.

Young continued to make films until the early 1980s, but once more on the fringes of commercial production. A fluent linguist, as before he worked frequently in France, Italy, and other countries, but hardly ever for mainstream companies. The resulting films were not always shown in Britain. He was an eclectic film-maker, often drawn to out of the way subjects such as a French film of four ballets by Roland Petit. He even strayed into the bizarre. An early film, Corridor of Mirrors (1948), had a hero and heroine who believed they were reincarnations of lovers in a painting. Many fine actors appeared in his films but few gave their best performances. After 1974 he at last got a foothold in Hollywood and made several films there, but none of them was successful. One, Inchon, made in 1979 with money provided by the Moonies religious sect, featured Laurence Olivier as General MacArthur during the Korean War, receiving divine guidance—tipped by some as possibly the worst film ever made.

The brilliant success of the three Bond films Young made for Broccoli at Pinewood and the outstanding film Wait until Dark for Warner Brothers suggest that his early promise might have been better served by working in a more stable production and studio set-up. He died of a heart attack in hospital in Cannes on 7 September 1994, after a long and uneven career. He was survived by his wife and three children.

Rachael Low

Sources  

The Times (8 Sept 1994) · Daily Telegraph (10 Sept 1994) · The Independent (16 Sept 1994) · Time Magazine (19 Sept 1994) · J. Walker, ed., Halliwell's film and video guide, 14th edn (1999) · D. Gifford, The British film catalogue, 1895–1985: a reference guide [2nd edn] (1986) · E. Katz, The international film encyclopedia (1980) · J. Woollacott, ‘The James Bond films: conditions of production’, British cinema history, ed. J. Curran and V. Porter (1983), 208–25 · G. Perry, Movies from the mansion (1976) · R. Grimes, A critical history of British cinema (1978), 254–7 · M. Dickinson and S. Street, Cinema and state (1985) · J. Brosnan, James Bond in the cinema (1972) · J. G. Pearson, The life of Ian Fleming (1966) · m. cert.

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photograph, 1963, repro. in Independent